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Submitted by Suvojit on

I think we need to focus on the normative argument that we are building upon. As you say (and I agree), there is an increasing tendency to ask the government to withdraw - and sure, the government need not make steel, but not stop from running schools - which I have difficulty agreeing with. The state in a poor country is a legitimate representative (in a democracy) and should aim to provide a comprehensive suit of welfare services, and citizens certainly have a right to expect this from their governments. I am not saying the proponents of cash transfers are saying that the government should even withdraw from the infrastructure investments in the social sector, but isn't there a risk that this is the message that big donors or even poor country governments may be taking out of this?
Also, governments that have access to resource rents and/or aid can consider distributing cash - what of governments that have access to no such resources, and are unable to raise sufficient taxes to redistribute?
There are those who may want governments to reduce their role to just dispensing cash if that is the minimum they can do well with a certain degree of efficiency - but this I think imposes the political reality of external and non-state agencies on governments, which certainly are a world apart.
I am not going against evidence-based policymaking here; but I see a strong normative component that forms the fundamentals on which this evidence-base is being built and that should be acknowledged